Home Sweet Honda 35 Square Feet

Mikey and I bought a used Honda Element, our summer home on the road. We're hardly the first to choose this vehicle to live in. It has great features like suicide doors and back seats that come out and transform it into a van. A platform bed modification and some clever organizational tricks like cargo netting on the ceiling, make this a ready-to-go home on wheels. It has a pretty decent 25 mpg and inconspicuous image making stealth camping possible.

Our goals this summer include running two web based businesses from our Honda while living by streams and mountains, in redwood forests and by the sequoia. I've given myself writing projects like longer and more contemplative posts to this blog, two e-courses I hope to finish writing and I've taken on some freelance marketing work. Mikey will be managing his kit and electronics biz from a laptop.

The modifications on the vehicle have already started. First we spent about $800 on maintenance, things like a new battery, breaks, spark plugs, fluids and and oil change, and we had a friend detail it (see pic). When he was finished you can hardly tell this baby's a 2003 with 160k miles on it.

Today I made custom mylar window covers to block sun and heat and I ordered no-see-um mosquito netting that I will use to make custom window screens to keep bugs out and air flow in. Tomorrow we begin to construct the platform bed. Luckily Mikey and I are 5'6, the same length as the interior of the vehicle. In other words, we fit! Hopefully Sesame won't mind sleeping by our feet.


Raven and Khaki Scout Hit Wilderness for Romance and Adventure

What do you do once you have quit your job, reduced your cost of living, built a homestead, reclaimed your skills and common sense, recovered from consumerism, and rediscovered nature?

This question led Mikey and I to Suzy and Sam, characters from Wes Anderson's film Moonrise Kingdom. We realized the other day that our relationship had a similar start. When Suzy met Sam she was dressed as a Raven and rehearsing for a play she was to be in. Sam was dressed as a scout. I was in the costume of a broken heart when I met Mikey who was at the time dressed as a life sized band-aid. Soon after meeting we shook off everything that bound us and set off on an adventure. Like Suzy and Sam we felt misunderstood though not by parents (that would come later) but by our culture whose priorities - the acquisition of money and stuff - made little sense to us. We were drawn to nature and wanting of meaning. Most important to adventure - theirs and ours - is the discovery that makes adventures possible, it is a formula, love + nature + adventure = happiness. Sam and Suzy knew this too and so we choose them to be our patron saints this summer.

In Cult of Less fashion, next month Mikey and I will cram few objects inside a Honda Element and hit the road - running shoes, an air mattress, a toothbrush, a plant identification book, laptops, earbuds, soap, a portable stove, and a few other things. We're headed to mountain towns like Bend, Auburn, and Bozeman where we hope to shimmy up to nature as we imagine Suzy and Sam might have done once they were past the awkwardness of their teenage year and old enough to drive.

From the road we hope to claim the freedom that the internet has been promising humanity. We'll run two web based businesses - an ebay store (stuff from yard sales collected while traveling) and our Holy Scrap store of home brew electronics and home made botanicals, while developing 2 e-courses to release upon our return in the fall. Free to define what a post millennial office looks like we're choosing the biggest tree canopy on a summer day by the loveliest river, the patio of the best coffee shops, public libraries, mountain tops, and the shores of alpine lakes. Our summer mantra? What would Suzy and Sam do?

I'm delighted to trade out a closet full of clothes for thrift shops wherever I happen to be, and powder room for public pools, rivers, lakes and recreation centers. The kitchen? A simple gas stove or open fire. Our parents won't be coming after us like Sam and Suzy's (sign of relief). Technology is on our side with phones that beam wify signals and an iPad loaded up with books. However pretty, we won't be toting vintage luggage loaded up with books but we will have a load of batteries as we'll be charging much of our technology off solar. Our cat Scardy, once consulted, decided to stay home with the house renter but Sesame will be with us. Both of us righties, no lefty scissors will make this trip. Weightless Paypal replaces Sam and Suzy's rather heavy tennis can full of nickels. One never knows what will come of an adventure, we may meet a troop of Khaki scouts and conduct our own redwood forest wedding ceremony. For sure we we'll be found dancing on the beach in our underwear. My ears are already pierced, thank goodness.

Cheers to spring and summer adventures.


Local Paper Does Story on Ultrarunning

Know Your Neighbor Thanks to our buddy James Durham over at the Sentinel for doing a sweet story about our obsession with ultrarunning. The story talks about our background and recent race performances. Know Your Neighbor


Simply Tidy

When I realized that domesticity was most of life I let the tiny details become important. I remember for example when I realized that garlic powder was made from grinding hardened, browed, garlic bulbs instead of throwing them away. Simple, easy, and yet unrealized by me until I was almost 40.

I've had a head cold for three weeks. Folks in town call it the six week cold. I guess that means I have three weeks to go! I have blown my way through three full boxes of tissues. Somewhere around box 1.5 I realized that instead of carrying a garbage pail from room to room, or piling tissues up everywhere I go, I could instead stuff them into a tiny wicker basket with a lid. Simple and downright elegant. This little etiquette trick took me almost half a century to come up with. Sigh.. what next?


The Best Part about Visiting Arizona in the Winter

Citrus. It's everywhere and people love to share the abundance. I feel like Hunter S. Thompson carrying a bunch of grapefruits everywhere.

Black Canyon 100k Ultra Race

This weekend I ran my first 100km ultra (62 miles), just north of Phoenix, AZ. It took me 15 hours to complete it. The heat (86F) and elevation gain (7,000+’) were significant factors. I’m happy to report that I just have one big blister and that I did not fall in spite of the trail being rocky from start to finish.

The biggest surprise in this race was how fun it was to connect with the other runners while on the course. I’m used to running alone with my headphones on. It was a totally different experience to meet up with people and hear their stories while running. In a way it felt like I was a kid playing with friends. We were all just out there for 15 hours, having an adventure. With aid stations feeding the runners snacks every 8 miles, this sense of play felt supported.

There were extremes, such as a huge drop rate (nearly 50 out of 140 people did not get to the finish line). While running at night in the dark I heard guns being fired all around and one point a group of five us heard a bullet flying through the grass near by.

I’m proud of myself for not getting lost and for managing my needs like carrying enough water, salt pills and food. Aside from some foot, calf, and quad cramping that slowed me down, this was an ideal first 100k race experience. Especially since the distance and elevation are both 2x more than I have ever attempted.

While I ran the 100k Wendy ran her very first race, an18k with a lot of elevation gain. She started out at noon and in the midday heat. I keep telling her that she ran a perfect race because she ran according to her heart rate, keeping it at below 160 until the final couple of miles and then running in hard. That takes discipline and its what makes people able to run far distances.

 Black Canyon 100k

Black Canyon 100k Black Canyon 100k Black Canyon 100k Ultra Race


Bye Bye Toenail

My first race will be this Saturday (it will be Mikey's second) and guess what? My toenail is falling off! This is a common type of nail fall off amongst ultra runners. The nail detaches not from it's edge but from it's' start, the space of detachment moves up and up until it kinda peels off. The timing of this event could be better. It does not hurt when I'm running, only when I push on it. Hopefully it'll fall off without my noticing as I'm not into doing the intentional yank out of necessity while on trail. Ahhhh!


Open For Bee'isness (Almost)

We miss our bees! Two years ago the hive died. We think it was either a weak queen that the hive did not replace for some reason, or that they died from having been moved to a location that did not give them enough heat.

This week the bees have been out and about buzzing all over my yard. All the patterns are appearing that lead to a swarm. Every early spring we are visited by one, and this year we intend to catch it. But first we're putting out the hive next to a tree that's already covered in bees to see if the hive will split off and make a queen for our empty nest. Of course if both of these ideas fail, there's always the internet.

Today we scraped clean our hive and gear and we set it up in a new location that we think they'll dig. We're just waiting on our brood chamber and cap, which we loaned out last spring when some friends had an epic and sudden swarm that wanted to catch.

Looking forward to the end of empty hive syndrome. Bees are the best!

TGT Minimalist Wallet Mimic

I've been craving a minimalist wallet, something tiny tiny tiny and functional. So I ripped of the TGT design which features a small leather pocket and an elastic band for ccrds. Here's my finished product. I love it! It took ten minutes to make and cost me nothing. : )


YATC5 Fermentation Example - Plate Warmer Configuration

My 5th generation temperature controller will be shipping later this month. This controller is ideal for fermentation and high efficiency chest freezer conversions.

The YATC5 has some great features such as a fully water proof probe that self calibrates, small form factor, Celsius or Fahrenheit mode and TTL data logging ability. You can sign up on my waiting list to be notified when units are available for purchase.

In this example I am warming a bottle of our Hefeweizen, Kimchi and flask of water with the temperature probe on a vintage heat plate. 


Connecting the Trails Sidewinder to Mescal Canyon Loop

We have two great trails near town that I have been hiking separately for years. This morning I was able to find a route that connects both trails with less than a 1/4 mile of bushwhacking. I started running on the best single track called "Sidewinder" and when I reached the fence line headed for an arroyo. What I found was one of the most beautiful canyons I have seen in New Mexico. There is only one twenty foot drop that comes out of nowhere, but aside from that the area felt quite safe. The total loop from my front door was about 11 miles. This trip can be easily extended in length as the arroyo has a network of smaller arroyos it connects to.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

11 mile run today. I found the arroyo that connects sidewinder to mescal canyon. It is Utah beautiful.

Sidewinder to Mescal Strava Data


Ted Turner Opens His New Restaurant

TorC is always excited to have a new restaurant open. Ted's ribbon cutting in the Sierra Grande Hotel Restaurant was met with a incredible turnout. Due to some confusion a local paper printed the invite event as a public event. Everything appeared to work out. We all got snacks.


Project Hefeweizen Bottled

We are pretty excited to have finished making our first batch of beer. The alcohol content came out to 4.3% which is kinda of Utah, but pretty close to the mark.


Beer Progress

Beer Progress

Racked the beer just to clear it up a little. This Hefeweizen is looking good and ready to be bottled. It was a surprise to me how fast and easy it is to brew beer. We have only done wine and mead in the past.


Perfectly Imperfect Pillows

I love sitting on the floor and snooching up to a big table. Often I work all day around the living coffee table. Pillows are key to floor comfort and best in a variety of shapes or sizes. Some pillows are ideal for getting your bum off the ground, think yoga, a tilted pelvis, long spine, crossed legs - ideally Buddhist style meditation cushion which is firm and at least 6" high. Long overstuffed pillows are great for lifting the knees and thighs off the ground, or for lumbar breaks. Other cushions act as wedges between bone and hard surfaces like table legs. Of course it is critically important that all the pillows fit perfectly under the coffee table. Viola!

My endless need for pillows fits well with my need for a palette cleanser between projects. Today for example... I ran 6 miles, did some web research for a conference call, had the conference call, and the day was young but much of my mental energy had been spent. These are the ideal conditions for sewing pillows! After sewing it is as though someone has shaken an etch-a-sketch in my mind and I am ready to start something new.

The great thing about making your own pillows is the matching that comes out of it. I'm a hack at sewing and my pillows always show flaws, but they match. And they don't just match one another, they match the curtains too. Here's a view of my sitting pit and all the pillows I've made so far. Today's additions are the buddhist style round pillow (the middle fabric is not so round, whoops!) and the couch pillow - a cover that I made from a lovely piece of loomed fabric that I believe is Native American which I got at a yard sale. It now covers a yummy, big, square down pillow. Oh yeah, you gotta have a few down filled pillows. Unlike the rest these always contort to what you need them to do, ideally they're for head resting and best placed on the couch. So there you have it, I think way too much about pillows. Thank goodness!


Resolutions for 2015

I have been thinking about, and talking with friends about new year resolutions. I don't always make them but this year it felt right to do so. I made three that are inner wishes, things that I believe that I have direct control over, and one that may seem outside of me, but having contemplated it a bit I realize that I may have more 'control' than I had originally imagined.

Inner Resolutions
1) To learn what needs to change about my behavior (and then change it) so that I won't feel taken for granted

2) To focus on the positive attributes of others (rather than feeling frustration over their weaknesses). To remember that another person is just me in different circumstances.

3) To run 50 miles

The fourth, which may seem out of my control is,
4) To see white collar crime prosecuted

Oddly, shortly after making this resolution, today it was announced that former VA gov is being sentenced to two years in jail for illegal behavior. So why is this on my resolution list if I don't have direct control over it? The answer is so that I will look for every opportunity that comes my way to do what I can do given my limitations. It starts with this post. I can be a squeaky wheel by blogging, and posting news clips to Twitter and Facebook. Also, I chose only one "world issue," because I feel that it gives me the greatest chance of success. If I had a long laundry list of things I wished to see changed I might get nothing done about any of them. But by choosing one, I think I can have a little bit of an impact. We'll see. What I have already noticed is that by choosing something outside of my inner world, I have already realized that I have more power than I had originally thought.

What one outside (of yourself) issue would you choose to stand for in 2015? How would it look to stand for it?

- Wendy


New Mexico Sweet - Honey Roasted Radish

I've been thumbing through a new cookbook by Storey Pubishing called Dishing Up New Mexico. They other day I tried a recipe for a grape salad. Mikey and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Tonight I followed a recipe for Honey Roasted Radish. I never baked radish before. There is little that can go wrong with this recipe which features honey, red wine vinegar, and some simple spices. It requires a little steaming and a little baking. The radish, once cooked, had no hint of the springy stingy taste that raw radishes have. It had been nicely rounded out by the sugar. All in all it was an excellent match with mahi mahi, pan steamed radish tops with garlic, and salad.

Lets Just Call These Trash Bin Macaroons

The other day I posted a new use for almond pulp, the waste product from making almond milk that I used to make dehydrated raw macaroons. Today I modified the recipe in an effort to take the kitchen trash concept further. Instead of using raw coconut, I used coconut mash, also a left over but  from making coconut milk. Ordinarily I'd throw this away just like the almond pulp. Two these two waste materials I simply added about 1/2 cup of maple syrup. They take about four hours to dry out in a standard dehydrator on 115 degrees.

There is a noticeable compromise to texture and taste in this version of the recipe. The "used" coconut pulp has reduced sweetness and made the texture is a bit fiber heavy, but it's still quite tasty and well you can't debate that it is an excellent salvage of materials.

Hydration Food - Chia Pudding

In the world of ultra running many athletes eat GUs, tiny packets of jelly like goo carefully designed to provide all sorts of things that runners need like nutrition, fat, sugar, caffeine, and electrolytes. I tried a couple of them. I'm not a fan. They remind me of bags of chips from the grocery store. Even if they're not made from crappy ingredients, they are often processed enough that they feel and taste weird.  Some are very high in sugar.

Mikey and I have the time to experiment so I've been searching for running foods that meet our needs which are mostly: calories, fat, sugar, and salt. Today I messed around with chia seeds and my homemade almond milk and came up with this delicious pudding. I combined chia seeds, almond milk, vanilla seeds that I had left over from making a batch of vanilla extract, salt and a tiny bit of maple syrup. Since we're eating it at home I topped it off with blueberries and a sprinkle of flax. If I were taking this out on a run I'd blend the fruit with the almond milk and I might leave out the flax. I think that a pinch of cardamom would be great in this too. Then I'd seal it with our vacuum sealer so that I can rip it open about an hour into my run and suck out the contents. I'm going to continue to experiment with chia because it helps one stay hydrated in the desert. The best part is, this is supper yummy. It reminds me of a black rice pudding desert that I go crazy over.


Self Improvement Results for 2014

On New Years Eve 2013 I posted a self improvement plan for 2014. Below is a summary of my 2013 vs 2014 actual self improvement data.

Prediction - I will double my yearly running mileage. Close...

2013 total miles - I ran 655 miles
2014 total miles - I ran 1,080 miles


I did manage to increase the elevation I run in a significant way.

2013 elevation gain - 7,640' 
2014 elevation gain - 18,897'


Prediction - I will double the amount of books I read.

2013 - I read 57 books
2014 - I read 62 books


Prediction: I will produce two kits.

2014 - Only the DP2 Battery charger came out this year.

Da Pimp 2 [DP2] Battery Charger Now Shipping

I also swam 97 miles.

2015 predictions:
  • running total mileage: 1,500 miles (4 miles a day)
  • running total ascent: 50,000' (33' per mile)
  • swimming total miles: 200 (.5 miles a day)
  • total books: 104 (2 a week)
  • new kits: 3